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“Squid Game” winner still awaits P253 million prize, 10 months post-victory

Final three of the Squid Game series/ Courtesy: Netflix


Mai Whelan, the 55-year-old immigration adjudicator who triumphed in the “Squid Game” reality show, is yet to receive her $4.56 million (P253 million) prize, even after 10 months of her victory.

Whelan outplayed 455 competitors in a series of physical and mental challenges inspired by the South Korean survival thriller. In the final showdown, she emerged victorious in a game of “rock, paper, scissors” against 27-year-old Phill Cain, securing her win by retrieving a key to a safe.

Despite the conclusion of filming in February, Whelan expressed frustration, stating she has not received any winnings, likening her situation to Tom Cruise’s famous line in “Jerry Maguire” – “Show me the money!”


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Having allocated some of her anticipated prize money for a “Squid Game” gala, which included expenses like a haircut, a black Ralph Lauren dress, and Jimmy Choo shoes, Whelan admitted to experiencing buyer’s remorse but felt it was well-deserved.

Looking ahead, she shared plans to donate a substantial portion of her winnings to various charitable causes, focusing on education for kids, aiding the elderly with basic needs and healthcare, and supporting wildlife and climate initiatives.

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Mai Whelan, the 55-year-old immigration adjudicator who triumphed in the “Squid Game” reality show | Courtesy: Netflix

In response to Whelan’s complaint, a source close to production assured that the winner is set to receive the prize fund as per the payment plan now that the show’s season one finale has aired.

This delay in prize distribution isn’t the only issue to arise from the reality show. Several contestants have come forward, sharing “inhumane” experiences during production, especially with the “Red Light, Green Light” game filmed in harsh weather conditions. Two unnamed players are being represented by a British personal injury firm, claiming injuries like hypothermia and nerve damage due to inadequate health and safety standards on set.

Executive producer John Hay defended the show’s filming conditions, asserting that appropriate measures were taken to care for the participants. “Squid Game: The Challenge” is based on the successful South Korean thriller, with a second season currently in development. The reality show premiered on Netflix on Nov. 22, featuring 10 episodes.

Justin Aguilar

Justin is an assistant editor at The Filipino Times. She was a TV News Reporter for ABS-CBN News where she covered news stories and reports for TV and radio programs such as ANC, TV Patrol World, Umagang Kay Ganda, Bandila, and DZMM Teleradyo. She enjoys capturing people’s hearts by highlighting the excellence of Filipinos in her stories and bringing the latest updates to both OFWs and global readers of The Filipino Times. Want to share your story? Reach Justin on Facebook: or send your story at: [email protected]

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